Friday, August 05, 2005

I'm Sorry, but it's WORTHLESS

There were a few things I thought about ranting on this week, but I just don’t have time for them all. It was a difficult choice as to which to go off on this time, so I tried to figure out what I haven’t already ranted about in one way or another, and go from there. Anyway, on with the rant…ENJOY.

For those of you who know about comics and values of comics, you should find this story humorous. You might not believe it, but you should at least chuckle. But as they say, “you can’t make things like this up.”

A young boy comes into the store. I greet him as I try to do with anyone who comes in, I can see he has a comic in his hand already. He says he’s just looking around, and he flips through our $1 comic bins. A minute or two later he comes up to the counter and asks if we buy comics. I reply, “Yes, we do from time to time.” He takes the comic he had in his hand when he came in and proudly slaps it onto the counter, asking me what I’d pay him for this one. You’re probably wondering, “What did he put on the counter? Was it Amazing Spider-Man #15, or Uncanny X-Men #27?? Nope. I wish. It was War Machine #1 Silver Foil Cover. I held in my laughter, and explained to the young man that; 1. We don’t usually buy just one comic unless it’s something VERY valuable and 2. We probably have at least 3 copies of that very same comic book floating around our store that we’d be lucky to ever sell. He didn’t seem to get it, so I had to just lay it out there for him, saying, “This comic is basically worthless to me.” To which he seemed quite offended, grabbed his comic, and left the store.

Last summer a boy from the area came in and told me he found some cool old comics that some guy was throwing away, would we buy them. I told him I couldn’t be sure, but he could bring them by and we’d take a look. He left, and I secretly hoped this was a jackpot—some old guy getting rid of great old comics from the 40’s or even 50’s and 60’s. The boy came back with a large plastic container filled with these old comics. They did look older, maybe 1960’s or 70’s age. But, they were, once again worthless to me. You’re probably asking, “Were they seriously damaged? Were they reprints or fakes or porn? No, no, no and no. But it seems that the old man was not originally from an English speaking country. These comics were of some character that I did not recognize and written in some foreign language I thought might be Danish or Norwegian. The boy begged me and really, to his credit, put on a great sales presentation to try to get me to give him money for these. But since most of my clientele here seem to speak primarily English, I once again had to turn him down, explaining that they were worthless to me.

A few teens came in this past winter with a raggedy box full of mainly 1990’s comics. There were some I thought we could sell (Maximum Carnage issues mainly, and some other Spider-Man stuff) but most of it was JUNK, and maybe 2 or 3 were bagged and boarded. I think I offered about $17 for them all, saying I wouldn’t pick I’d take the whole lot for that amount. They left, saying that wasn’t enough and they were going to take them somewhere else. I let them know that the offer was for today only as they walked out the door. Not quite a week later they came back in with the box. Just from glancing I could tell that there weren’t as many comics in the box now. My guess was they’d taken the books to other stores, and those folks picked out the few good ones, gave the kids a couple of bucks, and sent them on their way. Or maybe they gave a few to friends and found that no other store wanted to give them as much as we’d offered. Now they wanted the $17 I originally offered them. I explained that it was for that day only, and that now I didn’t really want them at all. They threw a fit, so Craig came up front too and checked over the books. After some heated discussion about how the $17 was NOT a standing offer and such, they took $10 and were on their way, grumbling the whole way out the door.

Just this week Monday, a man maybe 18 or 19 comes into the store. He says he has "thousands of really good comics" and he wants to know if we’ll buy them. Craig says “no” right off the bat because we’ve already bought a couple collections recently and we only have so much room for back issues, since it’s not our main product here. The man then asks if we know anyone around who will buy them, because he’s not from here. We give him directions to the other comic book shop in Waukesha and tell him to try his luck there. He states again that they’re REALLY good, “probably worth over $1,000,000!” And he’d “sell them on EBay except that I don’t have a credit card.” At this point I’m wondering if the comics are stolen, because how dose this guy end up on the road with that many comics, worth that much money, if he’s not from here, and doesn’t want to sell them on EBay. He then goes on to explain how he was really big into comics when he was “young” and that he got out in the 1990’s during the whole Marvel Age of Apocalypse thing. Now, I no longer fear they are stolen. Rather I’m laughing my butt off (on the inside) because obviously he’s still got the 1990’s mentality and thinks his stacks of Spawn #1 should go for over $500 each book, or some such nonsense (a note for those who maybe didn’t realize this—Spawn #1 is probably worth $10 MAX. IF you can actually find someone who doesn’t already own a copy or 5, and is willing to pay you $10 it, TAKE IT AND RUN, and don’t look back. It is NOT worth $500, it is barely a collectable, since they probably made over 2 MILLION copies of this issue). We chat for another minute or so about comics and he leaves. Craig and I look at each other, roll our eyes, and start to chuckle. Let’s just say I’m fairly certain we didn’t pass on something good.

I’ve had people bring in 1 or 2 older Little Lulu comics or an older Casper and want money. These at least have age on their side, but there just isn’t much of a market for high-priced kids’ comics, and it just doesn’t pay for us to buy a couple of books—bulk is the preferred quantity. Most collectors prefer classic super hero stuff like Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man, so if someone came in with the right issue of one of those, I might make an offer, but chances are they’d want more that I’d give. We’ve had people bring in comics from the 1970’s that they thing are super valuable, that we could MAYBE get $5 for. We’ve had people bring in books stripped of covers (some of these would have been decent acquisitions for us too, if they weren’t in such HORIBLE condition), boxes filled with mid 1990’s junk (usually several copies of each cover of each issue, as was the rage in that era), magazines, regular books… the list goes on. You just would not believe the junk! It is so rare that we actually get anything of value that some days we think we should just not buy books at all, to save ourselves the time and trouble.

Even when someone does bring in something that we could use, they usually want WAY too much for it. People have come in with the comics listed on a sheet of paper with price guide max prices on them for the issues. Well, if you want max price, GOOD LUCK because even collectors won’t pay max price unless it’s SUPER rare and probably graded by a professional company like CGC, and in MINT condition. With EBay and other modern methods of selling things to a world full of connected buyers, I say "sell there and see how you do". See if you can get that price, see how long it takes you to list them all and get them to all sell. Have fun. When you find out they’re not worth what you thought, and that only the really good ones sell while the rest sit and sit, and that it takes a ton of time and a bit of money just to get them all listed, then you can come to me. By now you should know that they’re not worth what you thought, since value is based not just on what a guide says, but also on supply and demand, as well as the time and effort required to sell the item. If you want money fast and easy go to a comic store and ask them if they’d buy your stuff. Expect to get maybe 2 cents – 15 cents a book for most things, depending upon the condition they’re in when you bring them in, and on what you’ve got and the age. But it’s quick and easy money. You now have your space back at home, and time and money. Now your junk is MY problem. But don’t expect to get any comic book store to hand out even ½ of cover price for most modern era books. We have to sort them, find room for them, and have them take up that room until HOPEFULLY someone finally buys them: maybe for $1, maybe for a few dollars. Our time is worth money, and our space is worth money, so it’s really a loss leader to buy modern era comics for anything more than a few cents each. Oh, and for anyone who has stumbled onto this blog not knowing this already, the 1990’s is NOT old (nor is 1980’s for that matter)!

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